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Interview with Robert Picardo

How is the Star Trek Cruise different from a typical Star Trek Convention?

You’re all a on a large ship together. It’s like an extended six day party, with performances by your favorite Star Trek celebrities. But also you see them around, you see the celebrities at the at the gym, on their way to a meal or on their way back from doing a show. So there’s so much more contact that feels natural.

How exciting is it for you to do things on stage that are different from a typical appearance for this audience?

It’s great to have a drink or chat with a group and get feedback. Last time I did a very dramatic piece that John De Lancie wrote and also edited from the original transcript of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Plus I also do an evening of songs and stories, a kind of cabaret musical show with my longtime friend Jordan Bennett, who has an incredible singing voice. Makes me look an amateur, but I still love doing it. I liked the challenge of doing different kinds of material and hearing back from fans.

You kept popping up all week!

I had a great time doing some improvisational comedy, a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style live voice-over of some The Original Series episodes without seeing them first. Denise Crosby set that up and it can get a little salty. As Rene Auberjonois said, it’s maybe a look into your psyche that maybe we wouldn’t want to see.

One of my favorite nights is when Ethan Phillips does his Comedy Master Class. It isn’t so much as a stand-up set as a celebration of jokes.

He is a joke machine.

And you act like something of his corner man. If it were a boxing match you’d be toweling him down every few minutes.

We’re very dear friends. In fact, I’m having lunch with him tomorrow. It’s amazing for me to watch him just do, you know, 50 minutes straight of quick jokes. He’s got a mind like a rolodex. But if he does pause as if he were at a loss as to which to continue – which I don’t believe that for a second, he’s just changing themes – but that’s when I call out some of my favorites. Especially if it’s a joke that I’ve told him!

What was it like for you coming on the ship for the first time, seeing the redesign? Especially the turbolifts!

They do an extraordinary job. And that they get it done in a brief few hours between the end of the previous cruise and the start of the Star Trek cruise is amazing.

This third trip will be the first to feature cast members from Star Trek Discovery. Think they’ll be any hazing of the newcomers?

Hmmmmn. I don’t know. I know that one of the people coming [Wilson Cruz] will be the doctor. Maybe we can compare medical notes from his time period of the future to mine.

I know you are very involved with science and astronomy with The Planetary Society. How great is it to go stargazing on the deck of one of these ships?

You’re in one of the best places you could be in the world, far from light pollution.

One thing I loved to see as a fan was the camaraderie of the celebrities. Coming to your show or to Ethan’s show and craning my neck to see the other cast members seated, cheering on their colleagues.

A lot of the actors that I didn’t work with on my show, we have become friends through conventions. It’s really a treat.

There’s a reason why the company that produces this cruise is so successful with all their cruises. They pick a musical style or theme that has a devoted, long-time following and create a six day adventure with an extended family that all speaks the same language.

One of the best recommendations I can give for the cruise experience is that I fully recommended it to the other Star Trek celebrities who were a little trepidatious about it. Some who weren’t on the first one, when the second one came around, I said, “take it, it’s really a great time.” So if the other celebrities find it enjoyable, then the fans, who are going to be around a Star Trek actors they’re predisposed to want to meet and see perform, it’s going to be a something special.

Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I never expected it to be as much fun as it is.

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